The damage caused by the battles on the way leading to the Saidnaya monastery is not major: some crumbled rocks or burnt grass. However, once you step inside the monastery, you are hit by a hair-raising cold breeze and a shock at the magnitude of damage, whether it is the broken glass or the multiple blows inflicted to the roof. The destruction was caused by missiles used by gunmen to try to bring down the bronze sculpture of Christ. “A single step can put your life at risk; sniping is still underway,” said a soldier. In the corner, two people talk about last night’s developments. Not a quiet night goes by at the monastery.
Historians say that the Cherubim Monastery (cherubim is Arabic for “angels”) dates back to the 3rd century, given the caves inside the mountain. Some of these caves, to which Christians once escaped from the persecution of pagans, can be seen as one heads to the top of the monastery. In 529, the first edifices for worship were built, and with time, they turned into ruins. The monastery was first mentioned by Arab writer Chihab al-Din al-Umari in the 14th century. He said, “This monastery was built by the Byzantines with limestone,” and he described its architecture.